Most the current press surrounding bestselling author Jodi Picoult concerns her novel, My Sister’s Keeper, which was turned into a film starring, Cameron Diaz, Abigail Breslin and Alec Bladwin, and has now premiered nationwide. But for her next project, Picault has a much queerer agenda in mind, and it has become personal.
Talking with gay publication Edge Boston, Picault delves right into the plot of her next novel, which follows the difficulties a lesbian couple encounters as they attempt to start a family. Through this storyline the book deals with personal, political and religious issues.
A married couple, Max and Zoe, fail several attempts at invitro fertilization, including multiple miscarriages and a still-birth and decide to stop trying, and split up due to the stress. Max becomes an alcoholic saved by religious fanaticism while Zoe meets and falls in love with a female high school guidance counselor, Vanessa.
Though Zoe had a hysterectomy, assuming that she would never be able to bear children, Vanessa has fertile ground within her womb. When Zoe and Vanessa attempt to use Max and Zoe’s leftover embryos they meet with opposition from Max and his family, who believe they are entitled to them.
Her dedication to thorough research made it necessary for her to interact with the virulently anti-gay Focus on the Family. She says of talking with one woman, who identified herself as an “ex-gay.” She told Edge:
It was a really strange interview. They are tangled up in rhetoric … In a way you almost can’t blame somebody for the strength of their convictions. But you can try to open their eyes.
[I asked her]”What about people who use [the Bible] as an excuse to commit acts of violence?”
And she said, “Oh well, that hasn’t happened.”
So I read her, like, seven headlines from the past two years. And she started to cry and she said, “That just breaks my heart because that’s not what Jesus wants from us.”
And to me that’s a really simple answer. Don’t take responsibility for it and pretend that you didn’t know it was happening. I find that very hard to believe.
Picoult is a huge supporter of gay rights. She has called the struggle “…the last civil right in America [that we have yet to achieve” but this project took on even more importance when her 17-year-old son, Kyle, told her that he was gay. Of the revelation she says:
Here I was working up this book about gay rights and figuring out how I’m going to do this whole lesbian couple invitro thing, then my son Kyle [a seventeen year old Yale-bound senior) came out to us. And I was like, “well now I really have to write this book! Now I have to crusade for myself!”
Indeed — though Picoult is already known for being a tearjerker — this level of intimacy with her subject matter is sure to lend even more intensity and authenticity. She also hopes she will reach the hearts and minds of middle America.
As for Kyle? He just hopes to meet some celebs. But I understand, because I also have fantasies of meeting the Gyllenhaal siblings. The sentiment may almost universal.